Charlie, Quinn and Queenie, and a hot Christmas Craft Fair!

I thought I would just share with you a little update of some of the crafting projects I mentioned in my previous post. I have been very busy getting everything done for this week, in between my increasingly hectic social life πŸ˜‰

It is so lovely to have so many things to do and people to spend time with, I really never expected this when I came here. I thought I would be mainly in my new craft space making, and instead I am out so many evenings with new friends.

First to be finished was the Luna rabbit, who I named Charlie. This was a commission from one of the people who entered the ‘guess the name’ earlier on this year. She had requested a rabbit for her grandson in neutral colours so I made one out of linen again and made him a winter and a summer outfit, all from charity shop clothes in my stash.

I was very pleased with the way that the formal shirt turned out, it was very fiddly but well worth it. I am very happy with my neat top stitching, that is getting so much better. It helps to have such a lovely new machine.

I finished the reindeer last weekend, they are probably the cutest things that I have ever knitted, look at that little face!

The draw for the reindeer took place yesterday, I sold some of the names earlier this week to friends at my knitting and sewing groups and the rest at the Christmas Craft Fair that was organised to support the local foodbank charity.

All of the names were sold and the winning choice was Quinn and Queenie. They have gone off to their new homes today. This raised 100 euros for the charity and we raised a lot more with the tombola and other stalls.

All of the patterns for the reindeer and clothes are from Little Cotton Rabbits. The reindeer pattern is a free supplement to the fox pattern, I knitted two of those last year for Ellen and Sarah and you just adjust the placement of the ears and add antlers and speckles.

The Christmas dress and jumper are both from the seasonal pattern sets and the spare dress from the textured dress set of patterns. I particularly loved making the textured dress as it looks so lovely and the yarn knits up beautifully.

The craft fair was held outside the charity shop on a rather hot day yesterday, it has been unseasonably warm here and it was about 24 degrees yesterday so I was glad that I was in the shade. Many of my friends had their crafting for sale. I bought this gorgeous mandala dream catcher for my bedroom from Gale.

Gale also had lots of other dreamcatchers and key rings, she is going to teach us some macrame at knitting group at some point.

These cute little Christmas puddings with chocolates in were made by Mary who had lots of other versions on her stall.

Tracy and Isla had a beautiful selection of knitted and crocheted toys and clothes.

I bought one of Edith’s gorgeous candle holders last year and this year bought some of her crochet pot holders that match my kitchen.

Lynne and Linda were manning the donations stall.

I also bought these amazing hand embroidered silk handkerchiefs from Vivien, who selling them on behalf of a friend. They are so delicate and I plan to turn them into some gorgeous outfits for the Barbie dolls. I am going to spend a little bit of time in my atelier over the next few weeks getting back to Barbie haute couture.

I have also been cycling, the sky was so clear this week and the views across to the mountains have been wonderful.

My latest knitting project is Rainbow Rascals from Dollytime on Etsy. The picture below is from her website.

I love the bright colours of these dolls and have previously knitted her little snowmen. They are a very easy knit as the legs, head and body are all knitted as one piece and that includes the stripy jumper. I am looking forward to making some cute skirts to go with them. I’m not sure where these will go as they might just be kept until next year for Christmas boxes for the local charities.

I have about 6 weeks now until I go off on further travels so am looking forward to lots of lovely adventures on my bike and knitting and stitching on the sofa! I hope that you are all having a lovely time whatever you are doing. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Dressing Fancy

As you may know by now I love a good costume and nothing makes my little heart happier than going to events where others feel the same. Whether it is Steampunk, Medieval or just a chance to dress up in something, I love the sense of freedom it gives you, and the creativity that people display in what they chose to wear.

I think it is interesting that most of my friends still enjoy what we might consider pursuits that are for children, not adults. They love dressing up, fantasy games, board games, model making and painting, and costumed dance and drama. I think these are very vital for our mental health, they keep us in touch with our carefree inner child, and they give us the opportunity to spend time with like minded people.

I have been updating my podcast list on my tablet as I have been doing lots of machine sewing recently and I love to listen to podcasts or watch sewing vlogs while I do that. Two of my favourite are on the history of Fashion, called Dressed, and one about fancy dress, called Dress Fancy. They are both well worth a listen. I have just discovered two recent episodes on the history of lace on the Dressed one so will be listening to those soon.

One of the things I love about Spain is the opportunity to dress up at the many fiestas here. I love all of them, whether it is Moors and Christians, the traditional dress at religious parades and the many different ones celebrating local events. The Benidorm one that I went to this week started some 40 years ago as an extra day after a 3 day festival honouring local saints. One of the bars offered free food and drink for anyone dressed up that day and it grew from there. It is estimated that 30,000 people come for the fiesta which makes it the largest fancy dress party in Europe, perfect for me!

I went with one of the local coach companies and met some friends there. As they were doing Steampunk I bought an outfit from England. This worked well and I got lots of compliments on my hat, although the temperature did get up to 29 degrees so may have to think of something cooler for next year πŸ˜‰

What was wonderful to see was the many groups who had come with a theme, it was so crowded that I didn’t get chance to get pictures of everyone but there were many crews from Top Gun, Wizard of Oz characters, plus many Elvises, a few Rod Stewarts and at least one Freddie Mercury.

The 1960s was a popular theme as well with some brilliant outfits like this silver one.

Disney is always a popular choice and this Malificent was magnificent.

Henry 8th was there, with just the one wife, a beautifully dressed Anne Boleyn.

As I was leaving the main area I bumped into B1 and B2 from the children’s video series Bananas in Pyjamas. My children loved this when they were little.

These cleaning ladies were wonderful, even down to the cigarettes hanging out of their mouths.

The gnomes had excellent patchwork waistcoats on.

These Morris dancers spent a lot of time doing performances for the crowds.

This couple must have spent hours on their amazing Avatar face painting.

I think one of my very favourites was the three girl bikers, loved their sequinned helmets!

Many of the groups had a travel theme, there were ships captains, airline pilots and a group of stewardesses dancing in front of the bar we were at.

It was just absolutely brilliant to see everyone dancing and enjoying themselves, all the more precious after the last couple of years, when at times I think we all thought we would never be allowed near more than 5 other humans again!

I ended the afternoon with a trip down to the beach for some food and a cool off and watched the sun go down so I was able to take some arty shots there.

A really lovely day out. I have had a very sociable week this week and so am going to have a very quiet one next week. After today the reindeers will be completed, the rabbit has already been delivered, so my next post will be sharing those pictures.

I have signed up for a couple more Future Learn courses as my Mary Queen of Scots one ends this coming week, and my online History of Canals one ends the week after so wanted to have something else to keep the brain active. Oh and I have finally got my guitar, courtesy of my aunt, I did my first lesson today.

I played guitar whilst at primary school and loved it so this was another of my things I wanted to do in retirement. I am just using some apps and You Tube videos at the moment but enjoyed getting back to it this morning.

I will be finishing off the Christmas ornaments for family this coming week as my stitching project and have a new knitting project to share with you in the next post. I hope you are having a lovely time whatever you are doing, have a great weekend, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Fan-tastic time

Apologies for the awful pun but could not resist! We had a lovely day this Wednesday with the fan workshop and then a meal out with the sewing group. I am so lucky to have met such a wonderful group of very talented people and love meeting up with them every week.

The workshop was led by Vivien who has embroidered 70 fans herself and runs a lace stitching group every week at her home. I don’t think I am going to have time to do this regularly but loved learning the little bit that we did this week. It will probably take a while for the project to be finished as I have to do all of the others first but it is just the sort of quiet and intricate stitching that I love.

The motifs we made are to be glued on to a fan, I chose a white one but there were many others available.

There were various flower motifs to choose from, that Vivien had already drawn onto the orange backing fabric. The tulle is then basted on top.

Since I wear a lot of purple, and fans are an essential item here in the summer I chose purple thread for my contrast colour.

This type of lace is called needle run lace and there are many different regional variations of it.

The stitching involves a running stitch through the holes in the tulle to start with and then going back and oversewing each line to secure it as we will eventually cut around each motif. You then fill in the larger areas of the motif with your choice of filling stitch. The pictures below show Debbie hard at work on her blue flower.

Mary did hers in black, this will be put on a white fan.

There were some other fans that members of Vivien’s lace group have been working on, this one is Linda’s.

This is Claudia’s showing use of more than one colour. Some of the filling stitches are very similar to those used in blackwork.

These will be attached to fan fames, rather than stuck on to ready made fans. They are such amazing work, the result of many, many hours of stitching.

I wasn’t able to find many resources on this type of lace but did find this useful website. There are so many different varieties of lace and I love seeing them on my museum visits. Lace is something that is often found in portraits as well. I have been doing more research recently for the novel that I am writing, based partly at Hardwick Hall. This is one of my favourite portraits, of Queen Elizabeth 1st. Lace was very popular in Tudor times for the wonderful ruffs.

I am also writing about Mary, Queen of Scots, as she spent a lot of time with Bess of Hardwick during her captivity doing needlepoint embroidery.

As well as a course on the history of canals I am also doing a course about Mary, run by a fantastic organisation called Futurelearn. I have done lots of their history courses and they are really good. There are some beautiful pictures in this course. They have lots of interesting free courses and I have also done their creative writing ones which have been very helpful with my novel. I feel like I have got to keep the old brain from turning to mush now I no longer have to think for a living!

Cycling has been going well, another 25km ride on Sunday, I stopped off at the beach for a paddle half way through as it was very hot!

It is actually raining now, we have had some very impressive thunder and lightening this morning but normal weather service will be resumed tomorrow and we will be back to 23 degrees. Next week I am going on a coach trip to a fancy dress fiesta, so will be taking lots of pictures of the costumes there for you to admire. I do love a good fiesta πŸ˜‰

Hope you have all had a nice week and have a lovely weekend ahead. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

The importance of dress

Ahead of this week’s lace workshop I thought that I would share with you a recent visit to Bankfield Museum in Halifax. I have visited the museum three times before and it is always a wonderful place to explore. Two of the visits have included displays about Anne Lister, now more well known through the TV series ‘Gentleman Jack’, but also for her travels and her diaries.

I first became interested in her as a traveller and I posted about that visit here. At the time there was not a link to her clothing as this was prior to the first series, but a couple of years ago we went back and saw some of the costumes from the first series. The museum is only small but as well as the changing exhibitions it has a fantastic costume gallery and holds the largest collection of textiles outside the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The exhibition this time was of costume from the second TV series. It was also supported by an exhibition of garments from the same period from the museum collection so it was fascinating to see what the costume production team had done with the recreations. The pictures below are from the museum’s collection from that era.

It was particularly amazing to see the very tiny shoes!

I also love the fact that they still have pattern books from that time. Halifax has always been a centre of textile production which is why the museum has such an extensive collection.

These pictures show the costumes from the second series, each costume is also accompanied by a shot from the series so that you can see it in context.

They are absolutely stunning and so detailed in their execution. This below is one of Anne’s outfits and the braid detail on the jacket is beautiful.

The accompanying outfit in this picture was worn by her wife Ann, I have tried to do braid like that on clothing and it is incredibly difficult!

I love the black organza blouse in this red evening gown above.

There is such beautiful smocking on Ann’s artist’s shirt above in the middle picture.

The bottom row of pictures above show dressing gowns and nightshirts, I would love the one on the left, so pretty!

I was particularly fascinated by these reproduction hats with lots of lace.

I think the lace on this one above was made by the same method that we will be using this coming week, of stitching onto tulle, rather than bobbin or woven lace but am not sure.

One of the things that Anne is remembered for is her ‘masculine ways’, she dressed in male clothing, married a woman, (although this was not legally recognised), ran a business and travelled extensively, often to places that were not usually visited at that time, such as Russia. She actually died in Georgia while on that trip in 1840 and her wife had her body brought back to the UK.

For me Anne is a very great inspiration. Not just because she chose to dress the way that she did, but because she was not afraid to express herself, and her desires. Looking at her story one may think that we have come a long way from the days where it was not acceptable to marry and live your life as you wanted, but there is still a long way to go, even for people who are not fighting prejudice.

There are the everyday concerns of women about travelling on their own, even about walking home on their own. As you know this summer I have been travelling on my own around the UK and met many women who are also on their own. People have told me that I am very brave to do this but I just feel that I am following in the footsteps of all the other great women who have gone off exploring. Realistically not very much is going to happen to me at a Caravan and Camping Club site in the Peak District is it πŸ˜‰

I have also joined a Facebook group that supports women who may not feel comfortable travelling alone, by holding meet ups and offering a space for advice and help with practical things. Many of the members have lost partners, who previously did the driving and maintenance, or are now feeling lonely and don’t want to camp by themselves. It is wonderful to have that support, both online and in person and I am looking forward to meeting up with more of them next summer.

I may now be able to wear what we want without causing concern, I can wear trousers anywhere I want, or have my hair short and display many ‘masculine ways’. However many women across the world can’t do without fear of reprisal. Equally men often face prejudice for wanting to wear what may be considered as ‘feminine attire’. That is why I love the Steampunk community so much as you see such wonderful expressions of dress such as this stunning outfit.

What we wear is not just about keeping warm, or displaying our social status and our ability to afford the fine lace and hand stitched garments of the 1800s. It is about who we are, and who we want to be and here’s hoping for a future where no-one feels that they can’t express themselves the way that they want to. That is before we all end up wearing silver jumpsuits as my 12 year old self was sure was going to happen by the year 2000!

That is why museums are so important as they give us the chance to see things that make us question the way that we live now. I hope that everyone that goes to see the costumes thinks about this aspect as well as admiring the skill of the many talented people who made them.

As well as the workshop this week I am looking forward to another cycle ride, I have been doing between 25 and 30 km each ride which is amazing to me considering the state of my health before I retired. It is so lovely to get out into the countryside and go down to the sea. It is still around 25 degrees each day here, although the nights are a little cooler now so I will soon be using my outdoor firepit πŸ™‚ Although it has sometimes been a bit cloudy here it is clearing up and so the lovely sunsets are back, just look at these colours!

I have been very productive craft wise as well, I will finish the Luna rabbit today and hopefully also the Christmas dress for the reindeer. So I should be able to share some finishes of those soon. I hope that you are all having a nice weekend, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Finally, the new craft space is finished!

You may remember that earlier this year I posted about my new sewing space, part of my bedroom, or the only other room in my tiny house here in Spain πŸ˜‰ At the time I was still looking for new storage for all of my things and I am pleased to report that it is now all done.

I had been looking for a particular piece of furniture for the room for a very long time. When these houses were built, about 40 years ago, the development company supplied furniture packs, as most were going to be used as holiday homes. Over the years most people have replaced this furniture but it still does turn up occasionally and I had been after the original dining / TV storage unit for all of my craft storage.

Before that I had a wardrobe and chest of drawers that was given to me when I bought the house but a chance visit to one of the charity shops led to me getting this lovely piece delivered on my birthday in June, the day before I flew back to the UK.

I have finally finished buying the storage to go in it, and arranging all of my stash. I am so pleases with it as not only does it look lovely, it matches the doors in the house and is very traditionally Spanish in style, it is also narrower than the wardrobe so gives me more space to sew.

I have all my wool sorted by colours in these baskets.

Deciding what to bring to Spain from Yorkshire was not easy, I had a whole craft room there so concentrated on embroidery supplies and very essential fabric, mainly my Liberty, felt, and Luna and Barbie fabrics. The bottom cupboards are all full of fabric. Some things are very easy to get here, such as wool and thread as well as basic sewing supplies. Others, such as interfacing and cross stitch fabric are not so I have brought that back with me.

I have tools in the drawers and the one cupboard and use the baskets on the shelving for my WIPs.

Cross stitch fabric, Liberty and my all important hat topper are here, we have a fancy dress fiesta coming up in a couple of weeks and I am going in my tablecloth jacket and tea party hat.

The Barbie crew are very pleased to be finally out of the wardrobe and able to see the sea, they love the new craft space πŸ˜‰

The smaller white unit holds tools, needles, sewing and embroidery threads so everything is accessible when I have the sewing machine out.

I have been working on the Luna commission this week, so far all pieces of the rabbit are cut out and zig zagged and I have made the ears with this check fabric.

I am using charity shop shirts again for the contrast fabric.

We have a quiet week this week as our trip to Cordoba has been cancelled by the coach company. Sadly there are no other options but we will be doing some day trips instead this autumn. At least that gives me lots of time to enjoy the new sewing space. The knitted reindeer are coming on well, all body parts are done and I am on with the shorts for the boy.

As I am not going to Cordoba I will be able to attend the lace stitching workshop which Vivienne is running next week at my sewing group. I am really excited about that as loved the Lace Day we went to in June this year. Not that I need any more projects of course but she does such amazing work, I will take lots of pictures for you.

I still have some costume collection and historic house pictures to share with you from the summer so will be back soon with those as well.

Until then I hope that you are all having a nice week, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

A rabbit, a quilt, some reindeer and many baubles!

Now that I am settled back into my Spanish life I thought that I would set a few targets for this visit here in terms of crafting that I want to get completed. I have a mix of things that I have to finish, and ones that I want to do, some of which have been on the WIP pile for a couple of years. I do also have WIPs that have been around for far longer but we won’t discuss those just yet πŸ˜‰

The first thing that has to be completed is another fundraising ‘name the animal’ for the local foodbank charity. You may remember that earlier this year I made a Luna Rabbit complete with changes of clothes for the Jubilee Fundraiser.

For this next ‘name the animal’ I have chosen to make this adorable pair of reindeer from Little Cotton Rabbits. I have not made the reindeer before but they are the same pattern as the fox, which I made two of last year, with modifications to the head.

I will be giving the two animals with a Christmas outfit and a change of clothes.

I already have the Christmas jumper for the boy and a pretty textured dress so just need to make a Christmas dress and a jumper and trousers set. I have a month for this so there needs to be knitting happening every day!

I am determined to sew up as I go along, I made this jumper some years ago and look at the mess that is left to sort out with all the ends to work in!

The second thing that has to happen is that I got a commission for a Luna from someone who didn’t win in June. I am going to make them a boy rabbit with a change of clothes.

The plan is to make the rabbit out of the top linen in this photo above then use the paler linen for the short and the grey flannel for trousers. The grey is an old scarf of Jacob’s and the paler linen is a charity shop shirt.

I am also using these charity shop finds for this other shirt and trousers. Hopefully these will be very quick to do as I can make a couple of outfits in a day.

We are having a few workshops at sewing group so there will be WIPs from that. We had the first one this week, learning how to make purses. I have looked at this type before for Steampunk but never done one.

This week’s workshop was just talking us through the make and sewing the clasp on a ready prepared purse but next week we are going to learn how to make the purse. I think these would make lovely gifts.

I am going to be running a workshop in December to make my beloved Christmas decorations. Over the years I have made so many different kinds of things using polystyrene shapes. This year we are going to be doing either trees, cones or baubles at the workshop.

Of course I stupidly gave all my previous ornament stash away before moving here, convinced that I wouldn’t be doing anything like this again. It all went to good homes, to various charity craft projects, but luckily the local Chinese markets have stash and I found a Christmas shop locally with the lovely ribbons in the picture below so all is good!

Lastly, if I have time after all of this activity, I would like to make a lap quilt for Katy. During lockdown I participated in a block challenge and I made lots of lovely things including these Liberty log cabin blocks.

I would love to make some more using motifs from my vintage tablecloths.

Many years ago I made a bag out of four, using one of Jacob’s old shirts for the outer fabric.

The plan is to use these 6 flower motifs above, and the 4 existing log cabins blocks and some sashing to make a little lap quilt for when I am sitting reading and it is not warm enough for the fleece blankets. I have until July to do this so that should be plenty of time lol!

So that should keep me out of mischief for a while. I also plan to stitch the first of my own Blackwork designs, that I showed you in this post. Fingers crossed I can find the time to do the other goldwork design I mentioned in that post as well, though that will not be done until next year.

What about you, what are your plans for this season? I always feel that autumn is a very good time to start thinking about new projects. Normally I am hastily putting together Christmas ornaments this season but those have all been done already.

I think it is the 35 years as a teacher that means that I always see autumn, rather than spring, as the start of things. Although there are no visible signs of autumn here really I still feel a sense of renewal of possibilities. Outdoor swimming is coming to an end, and I am looking forward to more cycling. I did 27km this Thursday with a friend, which I was very impressed about, my longest ride for about 14 years!

I hope whatever your plans you are having a lovely time. Have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Quirky Campers

On my travels I met many lovely people who shared my enthusiasm for the outdoor life. One of the things that I especially love about being at campsites or festivals is admiring other people’s vans or tents and so I have had a lovely time this summer. I thought that I would share some of my favourite finds with you.

I am very much looking forward to next summer when I will be going to at least one vanlife festival. Jacky and I went to the NEC in Birmingham last year and although that was very impressive, I am more interested in the self builds, the ones with personality, and the quirky campers. There is actually a company called Quirky Campers, where you can hire these types of holiday homes as well.

One of the very quirkiest, which we came across in the Hebrides, was the Chalet Van. It actually looks very standard inside, but the outside has a very Swiss chalet vibe. The couple that were driving it had rented it and it was certainly causing a lot of conversation everywhere they went! Love it or hate it, it is very unusual.

There were some other hire vans on the road with very distinctive paint jobs, such as this one in Scotland. I will add some more stickers to Katy, I have got some quotes that I want to add and she needs a name badge, but this takes decoration to the next level. I really love to see themed vans and am looking forward to seeing more at festivals next year. I know many van lifers don’t decorate as they want their vans to be more ‘stealth’ so they can be parked up anywhere but I do love colourful.

I met a few people travelling with Romahomes, or the similar Mezan vans. That would have been my first choice if more were available as automatic, I am very, very happy with Katy but one day there may be a Romahome in my future, when I get too old and crumbly for a micro camper πŸ˜‰

Also in the small and cute category were the various versions of small caravans. I love the old style Eriba vans and there were many of those around. This one was in Scotland.

In the Lake District there was this cute little van, complete with solar panels. Again that is something that may be an option for me in the future, to have a little caravan as well as a van.

The smallest and cutest award has to go to this, the tiniest caravan that I have ever seen, pulled by a Smart car, which in itself is tiny. This was in Shropshire. It came complete with an awning and was literally the size of a double bed. I would love to have found out more about it but the couple arrived late and I left the following day so did not get chance to ask them about it.

I don’t know if you can tell from the photos but it is about 5 feet tall. I would love to know where it came from and whether it is a custom build.

Also in Shropshire were these lovely vintage set ups, next to each other, the campervan and the trailer tent. Whenever I see older vehicles like this I think about all of the adventures they must have been on in their lives, and what happy family memories are held in them.

At many other campsites were the Tent Box, or roof tents. I can see the appeal in terms of quick set up, but they do seem very expensive for the space you get. I can set up my little tent in about 15 minutes on my own and it was only Β£120 which is a tenth of the price of the cheapest tent box.

This adventurous couple were using their tent box on top of a trailer, it looked great for fine weather but it was certainly not a 2 minute job to pack it all away.

It is lovely to see so many people out and about again, after the last two years it is so precious to be able to do all this and to see other people having fun. I have always loved camping, I know for many people it is their worst nightmare but I just love the camaraderie, the being in such beautiful locations and the sense of adventure I get. Even if I am just sitting reading in Katy it feels special.

I am however getting used to being in one place again and slowly getting back into the routine of Spain. We have lots of nice things planned with the sewing and knitting groups over the next few months, including a Christmas decoration workshop that I will be leading, so I have been amusing myself buying pretty ribbons and beads for that. Unfortunately that was one thing I didn’t think I would be doing here so gave away all of my old stash!

I am also going to try and set myself some targets for these next couple of months, I don’t seem to have done very much crafting at all since retirement as I have been too busy so thought a few concrete goals might help me focus! There are so many projects on my WIP pile πŸ˜‰

I am off to knitting group now, am currently making some of Julie’s reindeer for a Christmas fundraiser, looking forward to making some of the cute seasonal clothes, can’t decide which dress to go for though as they are all gorgeous. More of that in the next post. Until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

A long awaited visit

During my last week in the Peak District I visited the Silk Museum in Macclesfield. I have been planning to visit for around 15 years but somehow it never got factored into the plans. A wet day at the campsite seemed like a perfect opportunity.

The museum is housed in the former school of art, a wonderful Victorian building where many of the designers who worked in the local silk mills learnt their art. This means that they have a fascinating collection of artefacts such as the Jacquard punch cards and the samples that the students had to make for their assessments.

They have an amazing array of weaving looms and it was brilliant to talk to some of the volunteers who are restoring these. This one below is a jacquard loom and you can see the punch cards on the right and moving over the top of the loom.

This machine made narrow ribbons and there were samples of the sorts of things they wove.

I had a go with the tassel making machine as the volunteers had just mended it, it wound the silk around the wooden bead perfectly.

This loom makes knitted stockings which we still wear for re-enactment, although mine are wool and tied at the knee with a leather thong.

In a separate section was a display of silk printing from the Langley Printworks, some wonderful blocks including my favourite Paisley designs. The blocks were all carved in house to the designer’s specifications a very painstaking job as you can imagine.

Also very interesting were the manufacturer’s sample books, still so vibrant even though they are 100 years old. There were also a few garments, the Macclesfield stripe was particularly renowned as it was woven rather than being printed. A really lovely museum and I am so glad that I managed to visit.

I was busy decorating for Ellen last week, and did a day volunteering for the food bank. I am now back in sunny Spain so will be able to catch up on all of the other blog posts from my summer adventures as there are some other museums and historic house visits that I have done as stops on the way between campsites. Who knows I might even do some crafting πŸ˜‰ so that this can go back to being a craft blog!

The last 3 months have gone so quickly, I have had a brilliant time but am looking forward to spending a lot more time at my sewing machine and having a few months in the same place before I start travelling again. I did mange to finish all of the Christmas ornaments for friends before I left the UK, backing them with stash that I gave Ellen before I left the UK.

Until next time, have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

Reflections on van life

By the time you read this post I will have spent a total of 8 weeks on the road experiencing van life for the first time in my own van, rather than Eva, my sister’s wonderful van. So I thought that it would be useful to think about how things have gone.

I have been watching another set of videos on YouTube recently, hosted by Wild She Goes, where she interviewed other women living in vans about their experiences as solo travellers. It has been really interesting and made me think about the reality versus my expectations when I wrote my planning post in March.

In terms of the van and its layout I am really happy. I love the fact that I can remove the kitchen, the first couple of weeks were so hot that it was great to have that flexibility. I have used the kitchen as a food prep area but also as a lounge area in the evenings. I store my stitching in one of the compartmentsand have my wine and my tablet on the top.

For the first couple of journeys I took it down and travelled with it flat, which meant unloading all of the kitchen stuff back into the footwell storage boxes. Then I bungee corded it to the sides, there are some metal struts just for that so I used those and part of the boot shelf and it works really well. I now don’t even unload the stuff and everything has survived daily journeys as well.

The chair bed has worked very well for both day and night use. I prop it up against the blue storage box during the day which gives me a backrest. It is long enough for me to stretch out on at night and I have been really cosy. I have just bought a thicker fleece blanket as the last week has been colder at night, so use that in the evenings.

I have also bought a plastic storage unit for toiletries which lives on the front seat. This means I can access everything I need on a day to day basis without going to the tent. I keep clothes and night clothes in the blue box so I can get changed morning and night in the van.

I love having my little reading corner, I pack the books away for travelling and I have recently added a privacy curtain for when I am here reading. It also helps keeps the bugs out!

Other upgrades have been some flower garlands, to pretty up the top of the storage lockers, a dream catcher, my collection of postcards on the ceiling of all of my travels, and my growing collection of magnets. I did also put two layers of interlocking foam tiles from Aldi under the boot carpet as I could still feel the ridges initially. That has helped keep it cosy, along with the window blinds.

I am pleased that I had the little tent, especially in the first two weeks so that I could sleep in it during the really hot period. I have also used it when the pitch I have been given wasn’t suitable for using my sister’s awning, such as in the Lake District where the car was parked away from the pitches, and in Lancashire where the pitch was too small. I will definitely keep that as an option.

I tested out my sister’s awning, a Quecha Base Camp Arpanaz, at last site in the Peak District. I could pitch it by myself but it was a bit of a struggle as it is heavy and it was windy. I saw another awning on that site so have ordered something similar to this one in the second photo. I have got it for a bargain price of Β£60, when most others have been between Β£120 and Β£200. I don’t need as much space as the Quecha has and this one is a lot lighter with smaller poles.

I have only used Caravan and Camping Club sites, partly as they are such good value, about Β£7 a night on average this summer as they have had a non electric discount. I have just got my over 60s membership so will get discount next year as well. I also love the fact that the sites are so clean and well cared for with unlimited free showers and they all have laundry facilities. I also like the fact that there are friendly and helpful wardens if you need anything. I will definitely be using them as my main sites next year.

In terms of travelling so I have met so many lovely people, as last year I think people are more inclined to talk to you if you are on your own. Lots of people have been interested in the van so that has been lovely. At the last campsite in the Peak District I noticed another Renault Kangoo when I arrived and its owner, Julie, came and said hello. She is travelling full time in Roo, her fully converted van below, having a gap year from teaching. I also met up with one of the women from one of my Facebook van groups, who was in the Lake District and responded to one of my posts.

Driving has been fine so far, I have coped with some scary roads in the Lake District, very narrow lanes and busy cities and motorways. I am very proud of what I have done as a new driver, even if there have been many wrong turns when following the Sat Nav!

There have only been two mishaps so far, the friend’s gate that I mentioned previously and getting the keys locked in the car when it locked itself on me. That was a very nerve wracking hour and a half until a lovely AA man came and sorted it. Needless to say my keys never leave my side now!

I am so amazed that I am finally doing this, after so many years of planning and the setbacks during Covid and beyond. I have my three little embroideries, started during lockdown as a reminder to never give up. I am also working on some other stitching for the van as she still has a few more spaces for pretty things πŸ˜‰

So to conclude this very long post, it has been amazing, wonderful, better than I ever expected and more than I dreamed of. I have been so, so happy here in little Katy and love van life more than I ever thought I would.

I am so grateful for all the people I have met, the support of my family and friends, my wonderful daughter for storing my camping stuff and especially my sister for looking after Katy when I am away. I will miss my adventures in her so much while I am in Spain. I will leave you with one final picture from one of my favourite summer evenings in Shropshire where I just sat in my van, with the back doors open, reading and watching the most amazing purple sunset.

I hope that you have all enjoyed my adventures as much as I have, until next time have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.

The last few days of the tour

I am sitting in Katy on a lovely sunny day in Hayfield, at the edge of the High Peak as I write this. This is my last day camping, and it has flown so fast. I am having a quiet afternoon after a busy morning sorting, and drying an awning, as yesterday was the first really wet weather of the whole 3 months here in the UK for the summer 2022 tour.

I have written a post on van life in general so this one is just about my beloved Peak District and the glorious views on my walks here. I keep saying I will have to not come back here again, and explore other parts of the UK next year but it is so lovely I might well be back!

Hayfield is where the Kinder Mass trespass started from in April 1932. I mentioned this last summer as my first stop on my 2021 UK tour was at Edale, which is just the other side of the hill. So it is a fitting end to my trip to be here again.

It was that trespass that led to legislation that gives the right to roam over all of these wonderful places and I am so grateful to be able to do this. Most of all grateful for the continued improvement in my health. I only walk for 2 to 3 hours a day but am so happy to be able to do that and explore.

My walks have taken me all around Kinder, including the now very dry reservoir. This campsite has so many brilliant footpaths from it so I have only driven once this week, to visit a textile museum that I will write about in another post.

There have been many babbling streams, old bridges, moss covered walls, friendly sheep, blue skies and amazing clouds.

I am off to my sister’s tomorrow and sorting out Katy to leave her there for the next few months. I will be at Ellen’s for a few days helping her with some decorating then back to Spain next weekend! The time has flown by and I have loved it. Now to get on with planning the winter adventures and booking sites for next summer πŸ˜‰

The next post will be all about how van life has been so until then have fun, take care, stay safe and thanks for visiting.